Energy

‘India’s ambitious renewable energy target now seems achievable’

 International energy research organisation says interest shown by leading renewable energy firms will catapult India towards target

 
By Aruna Kumarankandath
Last Updated: Monday 17 August 2015

Increase in renewable energy production, rise in domestic production of coal and reduction in transmission losses will put an end to coal imports (Courtesy of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy)

India will soon generate cheaper electricity from solar photovoltaics (PV)-based projects than those based on coal imported from Indonesia and Australia, says a report released by Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

This will become a possibility largely due to expansion of renewables by 175 gigawatts (GW) and increase in production of domestic coal by 2021-22, allowing the country to end its reliance on coal imports.

“The target to install 175 GW of renewable by 2021-22 looked ridiculously ambitious when first announced. But it seems all too achievable with both major domestic and global firms increasingly endorsing these plans, including Softbank, Foxconn and Bharti's US $20-billion announcements for 20 GW of new solar capacities,” says Tim Buckley, co-author of the report and director of energy finance studies for Australasia at IEEFA.

“Commitments to major new projects in India over the last month alone from firms such as ENGIE, Trina Solar, Hanwha Q Cells, First Solar, SkyPower and SunEdison read like a who's who of the largest and most successful renewable firms in the world," he adds.

Earlier this year, India had announced it would install 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, with solar having a majority share of 100 GW, wind 60 GW and biomass and small hydro targets of 10 GW and 5 GW respectively.

The proposed energy mix is based on Prime Minister Modi’s reference to the mythological “seven horses of energy”—coal, hydro, nuclear, gas as well as wind, solar and biomass.

The results of solar bids in the states of Telangana and Madhya Pradesh have shown that solar power can be generated with levelised cost of Rs 5-5.50 per unit of electricity. These tariffs are around Re 1 lower than per unit cost of electricity from imported thermal coal.

“India is replicating Germany’s and China’s systematic electricity sector transformation, with the added advantage that the cost effectiveness of this is accentuated by the fact that the price of solar electricity has dropped by 80 per cent in five years,” Buckley is quoted as saying in a press release.

Reducing T&D losses

According to IEEFA's estimate, India’s power demand will rise by almost 60 per cent in 2022. In absolute terms, the demand will rise by around 50 billion units and touch 1,318 billion units per annum by 2022.

If India aims to reduce the aggregate technical and commercial losses even by 1 per cent per annum, it can reduce the required power generation by 75 billion units, or 15 per cent of the total required by 2022.

"Combined with a major grid and energy efficiency drive, the doubling of domestic coal production and fivefold lift in renewable will see India exit this decade with not only a zero reliance on thermal coal imports, but also significant excess supply of domestic coal," says Buckley.

The report estimates that India requires $250 billion for renewable energy transformation and improvement in grid transmission and distribution. Assuming a debt component of 70 per cent, the total amounts to $175 billion. Since domestic finance in India is limited and usually unavailable, there would be high reliance on international money to finance this magnitude of investment in the country.

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  • Government-funded solar electricity in India was
    approximately6.4 MW per year as of 2005. India is ranked number one in
    terms of solarelectricity production per watt installed, with an insolation of
    1,700 to 1,900kilowatt hours per kilowatt peak (kWh/KWp). 25.1 MW was
    added in 2010 and468.3 MW in 2011. As on 30 June 2015, the installed
    grid connected solar power capacity is 4,060.65 MW, and India expects to
    install an additional 10,000 MW by 2017, and a total of 100,000 MW by
    2022.
    State wise installed solar power
    Installed solar PV on 31 March 2015
    Year
    Cumulative Capacity (in MW)
    2010
    161
    2011
    461
    2012
    1,205
    2013
    2,319
    2014
    2,632
    2015
    3,743
    State
    MWp
    %
    Andaman & Nicobar
    5.1
    Andhra Pradesh
    268.46
    6.55
    Arunachal Pradesh
    0.025
    Chandigarh
    5.041
    Chhattisgarh
    10.28
    Delhi
    6.712
    Gujarat
    1000.05
    24.4
    Haryana
    12.8
    Jharkhand
    16
    Karnataka
    88.22
    2.15
    Lakshadweep
    0.75
    Madhya Pradesh
    603.58
    14.7
    Maharashtra
    378.7
    9.2
    Odisha
    31.92
    Puducherry
    0.025
    Punjab
    195.27
    4.77
    Rajasthan
    1163.7
    28.4
    Tamil Nadu
    157.98
    3.86
    Telangana
    62.75
    1.53
    Tripura
    5
    Uttar Pradesh
    71.26
    1.74
    Uttarakhand
    5
    West Bengal
    7.21
    Others
    0.79
    Total
    4096.648
    100
    During one year under present Government about 1000 MW of Solar
    Power was added. But the target for the next 2years(2017)total 10,000 MW and by
    2022 a total of 100,000 MW. Is it not Utopian? The past experience teaches that
    big projects were never completed according to schedule. The Government should
    encourage ‘Roof Top Solar’,’HybridWind/Solar’,’Community Solar’ on the lines of
    those in US.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

    Posted by: Anumakonda Jagadeesh | 4 years ago | Reply
  • Solar PV is technology intensive, with breakthrough innovations in efficiency, quality and reliability of solar PV plants happening almost every other day.Unfortunately, the Indian policy seems to be encouraging anyone and everyone with purely financial muscle to develop and set up these plants.The specifications are not so stringent(compared to those in developed nations), and there are hardly any stringent technical audits on design, layout and component selection post installation(I have seen many of these aspects being compromised).All that seem to matter to the Utilities buying solar energy are the units generated and lowest possible tariffs,with scant regard to the long term reliability of the plants, and their likely performance over 25 years.The whole game is reduced to seeking ways and means of cheap funds abroad and somehow reduce initial costs. Ideally, given that the Indian grid is less robust and stable compared to that in the developed nations, it should have encouraged as part of distributed generation,more of stand-alone, hybrid roof top installations,instead of grid tied large central plants to: 1.Maximize solar energy harvest(grid tied plants cannot export when the sun is shining and when the grid is down) 2.Directly empower the consumers 3.Avoid huge additional investments in T&D infrastructure and 4.Avoid T&D losses. The savings in 3.and 4.above could have been distributed as subsidies to roof top consumers directly. Germany has more than 90% solar PV installations evacuated below 11kv levels, almost all of them roof tops, with very few central plants above 500 kW.Of course, it did have a FIT which incentivised roof tops.

    Seshadri Akella
    MD
    Dakshesh Energy Pvt Ltd

    Posted by: Seshadri Akella | 4 years ago | Reply